CA, Ontario: Fall walks – Algonquin Park in October

Fall is the most romantic season in Ontario. But October makes it so special because it is the month of the year when one can indulge the gorgeous foliage, thanks to the countless variety of yellow, orange and red colours that appear shortly after a couple of crisp mornings in the season.

colours

One doesn’t really need to go out of the city to enjoy the nature and the wonderful colours, there are many parks and alleys with a fine selected variety of trees and shrubs that will change shades and colours along with the new season. But we decided that a visit a little bit up North, to Algonquin Provincial Park would be a better idea, while we could do some hiking as well.

Algonquin park - trail map

Established in 1893, Algonquin Park is the oldest provincial park in Canada. Over time, its size has increased to its current size of about 7,653 square kilometers.

Whiskey Rapids Trail
The Whiskey Rapids Trail (2.1-km loop) is the first trail – 7.2 km from the West Gate of the park. The trail follows the Oxtongue River, a placid stream nowadays, but a huge thundering river at its birth, 11,000 years ago, when the 2-km thick glacier melted away. The rapids themselves are more like a fast stream, not true rapids, but I think the spring is a better season to watch them, when all the snow is melting in the area. The rapids name comes with a funny story since the last century, when a camp of log drivers few kilometers downstream from here decided that the imminent end of their drive warranted a celebration. They all chipped in to cover the $3.85 cost of a three gallon keg of whiskey, which they arranged to have left at the railroad station at the top of Canoe Lake. Two men paddled up to get the precious shipment, but an incident happened on their way back, after one of the men pointed out to the other one that they really deserved the first drink since they had done all the work fetching the keg. By the time they reached this point, enveloped by the darkness, and not seeing straight anymore, the swollen rapids followed its course. When they pulled themselves out of the water, the keg was gone, and never recovered. There is said there wasn’t much left to be found anyway.

With over 2,400 lakes and 1,200 km of streams and rivers, the park is one of the most popular provincial parks. It has 19 interpretive trails, ranging in length from 1 to 11.7 km.

If one just wants to walk and admire the nature, Peck Lake Trail is an easy one. If someone would like to learn something about the environment and this particular area, then the guides available at the beginning of the trail offer so much information about the lakes in Algonquin, plants and animals. The guides can be kept for 50 cents, or be returned in a box, so others may use it later. These guides are available with the help of Friends of Algonquin, a non-profit registered charity organization for people passionate about Algonquin Park.

Hemlock Bluff Trail - variety of trees
Hemlock Bluff Trail (3.5 km loop) takes the visitors through a variety of hardwood and coniferous forest, and a large stand of hemlock. Part of the trail passes by Jake Lake, that firstly introduced a new area of Algonquin research, the fisheries. A great variety of fisheries research projects have been going on in the Park every year since 1936.

Mixed forests and a wide variety of environments in the park allow cohabitation a huge diversity of plants and animal species together.

The Lookout Trail (2.1-km loop) climbs up about 100 m to the top of a cliff with gorgeous views of a mixed forest and Lake of Two Rivers in the distance. Four times in the last million years, the Earth’s climate has undergone major cooling trends, followed by a warmed period. Right in this area, the three km of glacial ice (the fourth and last ice sheet) melted about 11,000 years ago.

Centennial Ridges Trail (10.4 km loop) is going along two high, parallel ridge systems and features some of the park’s most outstanding scenery. It is a very demanding trail that visits five separate cliffs and involves much climbing and descending. The trail was opened in 1993 as it honors 11 representative historic personages who have helped shape the present day Park. Because we run out of time, and the evening was fast approaching, we only hiked to the post#10, which is facing Whitefish Lake, going directly to the last posts.

Booth’s Rock Trail (5.1 km loop) starts one km south of the Rock Lake Campground office. The parking lot is very tiny at this trail, and we were asked to leave the car very far from the start of the trail. We didn’t climb to the lookout point, but instead we hiked to the Barclay Estate, along the Rock Lake shore, which offered an awesome view of the lake. Judge G Barclay was a relative of JR Booth, a lumberman of the early logging era. We saw some remnants of a dwelling which was occupied for the last time in the summer of 1953. The path goes along on what was once the busiest railroad in all of Canada. This was part of the railroad built in 1890 that linked Ottawa to Georgian Bay, and no longer in use since 1944.

Spruce Bog Boardwalk
Spruce Bog Boardwalk (1.5 km loop) took us across two separate bogs, the Sunday Creek Bog and a small kettle bog. While the trail passes by different areas, we have had a chance to learn how the bog evolved over years from a small open water.

The Algonquin Visitor Centre features exhibits about the natural and cultural history of the area.

Algonquin park - totem at the East Gate

Opened in 1992, the Algonquin Logging Museum is located by the park’s east gate. A 1.3 km outdoor trail opens up right after the video presentation is ending inside of the building. The path walked us through the history of the logging industry, with a recreated camp, old tools, and logging equipment and even a steam-powered amphibious tug called an “alligator”. The interpretive panels along the way gave us a full image how harsh the life and work was in those times, and how tough the journey of the first settlers was.

Algonquin park - traffic might get busy on a beautiful long weekend
Algonquin park – traffic might get really busy on a beautiful long weekend, nowadays

Beside the great foliage the park is offering, there are several hikes for beginners or more experienced people, picnic areas, museums, lodges, campgrounds, and many other facilities one can think of. There are informative booklets at the beginning of each trail. No wonder that since 1992, Algonquin Park has become a National Historic Site of Canada.

Beaver Pond Trail (2 km trail) winds through a rugged terrain, and goes along the dams, and partially by the Amikeus Lake, a beaver-made lake. There are several beaver lodges spread over, and not sure how many of them are in use. We have not seen any beaver, but I guess our timing was not perfectJ

Algonquin Park is home to a Natural Heritage Education program. The most popular aspect of the program is the weekly wolf howls. These are held (weather and wolves permitting) on Thursdays in the month of August, and sometimes in the first week of September if there is a Thursday before Labour Day. Park staff attempt to locate a wolf pack on Wednesday evening and, if successful, they announce a public wolf howl the next day. This sounds really interesting, don’t you think?

Algonquin park visitor centre
Wolves “howling” – exhibits at the visitor centre

 

* Tip(s) of the day

– ensure you have hiking boots as most of the trails have rugged paths

– families with kids (and not only) should be careful, as some trails go by or end to an abrupt cliff

– ensure you have water with you, as not all trails have water/washroom facilities near by

 

~ visited in October 2019

11 thoughts on “CA, Ontario: Fall walks – Algonquin Park in October

  1. Autumn is a great time to visit Algonquin. We, for the most part, have been able to visit during the week when the crowds aren’t as bad. This year we hiked the Mizzy Lake Trail; started early and had not too much of a problem with crowds. Although the Park was certainly busy.

    Love your pictures and descriptions. The Peck Lake Trail, although short has always remained a favourite for us.

    thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Glen for stopping by and your kind note. You were lucky to be able to hike during the week, when the park is not so busy. The Peck Lake Trail is really nice, indeed, but to be honest, it is really hard for me to pick a favourite. The Whiskey Rapids name story was certainly a funny one🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. All of the trails offer something different for sure. If you ever get the chance hike from Mew Lake Campground down to the “Mew Lake Falls. The falls are small but very pretty. Continue along the Highland Backpacking Trail for about a kilometre or so and connect with the Railway Bike Taril back to Mew Lake.

        We’ve done it in both the winter and summer. It gets a fair bit of traffic in the winter, so it is a pretty easy go of it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. There is so much more, for us, to explore in the park!! I can hear your love for Algonquin, and no wonder why, with so many gorgeous vistas. I will remember your suggestion on my next visit, for sure. Hopefully I will not encounter with your little “monster”🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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